With the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) sweeping 25 out of the 26 seats in the Osun State House of Assembly, the focus of attention now is on the question of who will take the leadership seats in the 8th Assembly when it is inaugurated in June this year. And typical of such question, it is attracting silent but divergent positions.
In the last few days, I have followed a series of narratives and arguments on the ideal choices for the leadership of the House. But emotions and sentiments seemed to have shaped most of the narratives and arguments, not what is actually right and what will work better for Governor Ademola Adeleke-led PDP government in the state.
The legislature is an important component of government, and deciding on its leadership entails more than just feelings. It revolves around two important things– experience and trust, which I observed many have not given enough consideration in the ensuing debate on the leadership of the 8th Assembly in Osun state
While there is really no constitutional direction on how the leadership of the House should emerge, the plain fact in sight is that there are established procedures to guide these decisions. House rules and precedents provided clear guidance on how to decide the leadership of the Assembly.
In the case of the Speaker, for example, House Rule 4(a) states that “A member-elect, addressing the Clerk, shall propose a ranking member-elect from the majority party that such member-elect, ‘Do take the Chair of the House as Speaker of the House of Assembly provided such a nomination shall be seconded by another member-elect.”
The clear impression from the above provision by the House Rule is that the condition to occupy the Speakership seat of the House of Assembly is vested in the fact of being a ranking member-elect. A similar condition is attached to the Deputy Speakership seat as well as some other key principal Positions in the House. The only exception where a non-ranking member-elect is allowed to take the Speakership seat or any other, according to Rule 4 (b) of the House, was when there is no ranking member-elect among members of the majority party in the House.
Having the leadership of the House that already understands the job of steering the ship, and could help push Governor Adeleke’s legislative agenda to success should be the focus of everyone. In the legislature, experience is not just about respect, but bringing about results. And good enough, the PDP has at least four ranking member-elect out of the twenty-six that will sit in the 8th Assembly, who know how to pass bills and can safely administer the House.
What the Osun people look forward to when the 8th Assembly is inaugurated is a healthy legislative chamber, working as it was designed to– with the leadership that possesses the legislative ability to keep the House together and be able to support Governor Adeleke’s firm commitment to take the state to a greater height. This is not something a first-timer in the House, which some people are purportedly projecting for the leadership of the 8th Assembly.
Not just in the legislature, experience, and seniority are critical factors that usually weigh in making leadership choices. This should be the guiding principle in arriving at who leads the House in the 8th Assembly, if not for anything, but to observe precedent and rules of the House, which are pathways to the stability of the Assembly.
It is also important to remember that the Osun people voted overwhelmingly for the PDP to dominate the House because they do not want anything to come in the way of Governor Adeleke in his determination to deliver good governance for them. As such, the PDP in the majority in the House of Assembly must have confidence in the leadership and the best way to achieve this is to ensure that the right people occupy those seats.
This is the ideal thing to do, as it will not only conform to established practice but also save the PDP from falling into a pitfall that could derail it from achieving its goal for the people. Good enough, most of the ranking member-elect have over the years shown capacity, and stood by the PDP, even at an extreme personal cost.
The plain truth is this– the leadership structure of the 8th Assembly will have a strong bearing on its eventual output. If the PDP stick to tradition by going for experience and seniority in the choice of leadership of the 8th Assembly, it would have certainly set the stage for a virile House that will collaborate with Governor Adeleke’s bold and altruistic mission of transforming Osun State.
Comrade Abass Olatunde is a pro-democracy advocate and writes from Osogbo, Osun State.
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